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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about policing or the law? You may be able to find the answer here.

Through our frequently asked questions section we aim to help you find the answers you need without having to call us to ask for information. We've provided answers to questions on a range of topics which are regularly asked of police forces up and down the country.

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An assault is any act intentionally or recklessly causing the victim to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal injury or violence. If violence is threatened, there must be the ability to carry out the threat at the time.

In law an assault does not have to involve physical contact. An assault may involve a threat alone. However, there must be the prospect of the threat being carried out immediately and for the victim to fear that the threat will be carried out immediately. If physical contact is made, the offence is actually a 'battery'.

Most people who describe an assault, are actually describing a battery - see Q479 for more information on this.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.